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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
Playing with #Fire by Micky O'Brady is a YA coming of age novel with something different. The unique premise of this story focuses on bullying, teenage life, and the dark side of social media, but uses a fresh vehicle--pro wrestling--to drive the story. Meet Everly, a smart teenage girl who is bullied so badly that she live-streams her suicide attempt. When she attempts to get back on her feet, what will everyone's reaction be? She's having PTSD and other issues from the bullying and suicide attempt, but she soon discovers an unlikely safe space--pro wrestling--in a health class assignment she really had no interest in at first. Why wrestling? The hot superstar athlete who trains her, Fire, may have something to do with it. Things go roller coaster for a while, and the bully brigade starts again, but Everly's life has twists and turns she never expected.
O'Brady has created a socially relevant and potent book for YA readers and uses the platform of wrestling to tell the story, which is original and interesting. You don't find that many novels--YA or adult--that use it as a plot device, and it really works here. You don't have to be a wrestling fan to like this story, but it may make you one by the time you're finished. Everly and Fire are likable, as are the other characters--Haze in particular. O'Brady has adolescent issues down to a T. You learn what lies beneath the characters' motivations for bullying. The plot is intense but appealing, the dialogue dynamic, the conflict explosive, and the ending very satisfying. Playing with #Fire by Micky O'Brady is an A+ read for wrestling fans or anyone affected by bullying.